|The University of the Third Age (U3A) aims to encourage men and women no longer in full-time employment to join together in educational creative/leisure activities. The word 'University' is used in its original sense of people coming together to share and pursue learning in all its forms.|
The concept of a place of learning for retired or partly retired people, with leisure time at their hands, was developed in France in 1972, followed by the creation of the 'Association Internationale des Universités du Troisième Age (A.I.U.T.A.)
The idea spread throughout the world. The first British 'Universities of the Third Age' - U3As - were formed in 1982, under the aegis of the Third Age Trust (T.A.T.) which became an associate member of A.I.U.T.A. There are now more than 700 local U3A groups throughout the UK, with a growing total membership, now in excess of 200,000 men and women.
All U3As are affiliated to the Third Age Trust, a registered charity. Local U3A groups are autonomous self-help and self-financing units, each with its own charitable status, where local activities are planned and undertaken according to their members' own wishes and resources. All administrative and study group activities in each U3A are carried out on a purely voluntary and unpaid basis. Local committee members, responsible for the day-to-day running, are also volunteers, who offer themselves for annual elections by their fellow members at their local AGMs.
Although called a University, no academic qualifications are required or given. Those who teach are also those who learn. Men and women from all walks of life, no longer in full-time employment, have the opportunity to meet like-minded members to expand their knowledge, share interests or acquire new skills. Members with a lifetime of experience, expertise or know-how in professions, occupations or through hobbies are encouraged to form study or interest groups. A mutual interest in learning for fun leads to new friendships based on an expanded social experience. Many study groups meet in members' own homes, adding a very important social dimension. It has been scientifically acknowledged that keeping ones brain 'working' can contribute to the health and well-being of people, particularly those living alone.
JUST AS IRON RUSTS FROM DISUSE, EVEN SO DOES INACTION SPOIL THE INTELLECT. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
Last updated January 2009